Local woman Tracy Doherty is setting out to 'Protect your Plate' by working to enhance the current food business registration process.
Tracy is a Food Hygiene Senior Advisor for the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland (FSA in NI) and works within the Local Authority Policy and Delivery Team. She works closely with district councils to ensure that FSA policy is developed and implemented effectively.
Currently, she is working on the 'Regulating Our Future' programme, enhancing the current food business registration process. This involves the development and introduction of a new online registration service for food businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland which is due to go live in April 2019.
This new service will ensure a consistent and easy to use experience, for food business operators in Ballymena and across the country; in turn providing them with relevant advice and guidance from the outset helping to ensure they produce food which is safe.
Mid and East Antrim will be the first council to use the service in Northern Ireland and will undergo a testing phase over the forthcoming months.
Tracy is delighted that her service will be rolled out first in her home council.
She said: "I am proud to be involved in the development and implementation of this new service and delighted that my home council is at the forefront of testing the new service.”
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council along with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council will be some of the first to pilot the new service.
Tracy, who previously worked in Ballymena Borough Council for seven years, as an Environmental Health Officer said: "I have carried out many food hygiene and food standards inspections in food businesses and have seen at first hand some of the issues around the registration process.
"I am aware of the questions and concerns which food business operators have and also some of the problems faced by officers during this process.
"It's my mission to streamline the registration process, making it simpler and more effective for everyone involved.”
The Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland works with thousands of people from right across the food supply chain to ensure food is safe and what it says it is.
Much of the FSA’s work is done in partnership with district councils within Northern Ireland, who are responsible for checking food hygiene and safety standards in food businesses across the country, issuing hygiene ratings under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.
Maria Jennings the FSA’s Director in Northern Ireland, said: "Food produced and sold in Northern Ireland is highly regarded and notable for being safe.
"Local people trust the food which they are eating in restaurants and cafes, and this is a result of those behind-the-scenes people throughout the food chain who ensure food standards remain high.”